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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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less, by the profit he contemplates from adding another sheep to his flock. The knowledge that the commons will at some point be overgrazed, if everyone does this, does not suffice to deter him.
All of this seems reasonable enough when one is talking about sheep. But does the analogy extend to decisions of parents regarding the number of their children? Are the benefits of adding a child to our own families even roughly comparable with the benefits that come from enhancing our economic status?
In discussing freedom, I took the view that children are one means of extending our own selfhood into the future, of obtaining some kind of personal continuity. Children are also a way of replenishing the human community in which we hope to live on as a cherished memory. One child surviving into adulthood and having children of his own will suffice to maintain our own continuity. If our self-interest is extensive enough to embrace a concern for the continuation of society and of the species, two or three children will be enough.
However, in some circumstances we may feel disquieted about limiting ourselves to two or three children. When, for example, we live under conditions in which infant mortality is high, we may very well want to have one or two extra children to be sure that two will survive us, or at least will live to have children of their own.
A second set of satisfactions and opportunities is associated with child-bearing and child rearing. To the extent that having a child is a quest for the experience of rearing a child, it is not clear that relatively large families are best. For those satisfactions that come from the quality and frequency of one's contacts with one's own children, small families are preferable to large families. In very large families, the older children, not the parents, obtain most of the satisfactions of playing, of training, and of other forms of intimate interaction with the younger ones. Parental contacts with children in a large family arc more likely to occur as disruptions for a busy mother than as opportunities for a show of affection and an exchange of ideas.
The benefits of bearing children are somewhat more ambiguous. At present there is no sure knowledge as to the strength of the drive to bear a child and what role this plays in the number people have. The desire to have the experience of giving birth may be satisfied with the birth of one child. Some women, however, may covet the repetition of this kind of experience.* One psyehonalyst has expressed his amazement that the desire to bear children is so easily and quickly satiated (43). Such satiation may result from the long period of dependency typical of human offspring, as well as from the physical exertion, pain, and risks of childbirth itself. Whatever joys may be associated with our children, there are also lifelong concerns and anxieties.
*Sorne women seem to have a strong unconscious urge to bear children even while practicing birth control. Dr. Hilton Salhanick has observed that some women practicing the rhythm method will break or lose their thermometers at the critical juncture in theirright, therefore alwayshas some c